Monthly Archives: May 2016

An Unfortunate Book (1917)

Russian Observations upon the American Prayer Book. Translated by Wilfrid J. Barnes and edited with notes by Walter Howard Frere. Alcuin Club Tracts, XII. London: A.R. Mowbray and Co., 1917.

THIS book gives the report of a committee of Russian theologians, published in 1904, to whom, through the Holy Synod, the American Prayer Book had been submitted by Archbishop Tikhon with the question: “If an entire parish, with its ministers, should simultaneously leave Anglicanism to join the Orthodox Church in America, then would it be possible to authorize the ‘Common Prayer Book’ for their liturgical use?”

A question based on a truly remarkable supposition! Had the situation been real and not fictitious, it is hardly likely that it would have been heard of for the first time from the publication of a translation of the report thirteen years after its preparation. It requires no great exercise of Higher Criticism to discern in this report some connection with the case of the Rev. Ingram N. W. Irvine. Dr. Irvine was deported from the ministry in 1900 by the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania. There were serious irregularities of procedure in the case, for which there was no remedy, though attempts were made to put Bishop Talbot on trial for his share in the proceedings. The 1905 Dr. Irvine was received into the Russian Orthodox Church in New York by Archbishop Tikhon, at that time the representative of the Russian Church in this country, and shortly after he was preordained in spite of protests and remonstrances from our Presiding Bishop and others. The course adopted by the Russina authorities gave grave offense to American Churchmen. As the Presiding Bishop wrote to the Holy Governing Synod: “The public setting at naught both of our discipline and of our orders cannot but have an injurious effect upon the relations of the Holy Orthodox Church with our American Church, and, it is not unreasonable to think, with the whole Anglican communion.” It is unfortunate that the sore feeling which these proceedings caused should be revived just at this time.

It would have seemed natural for our English brethren to ask some questions of American Churchmen before publishing these criticisms on their Prayer Book—professing to have such an extraordinary origin.

The date of the Observations, as well as the character of several of the criticisms, raises the very probably suspicion that the reference of the matter to the committee was not made in a wholly impartial spirit. Dr. Irvine had undoubtedly much to complain of in his treatment in the Episcopal Church. This may well have colored his later views of the Prayer Book, according to which he had ministered for over twenty-five years; and these views he not unnaturally may have suggested directly or indirectly to those to whom the examination of the Prayer Book was referred in connection with the wild hope of gaining many converts, even whole congregations, from the Episcopal to the Orthodox Church.

It may be worth while noting that while Dr. Irvine had strenuously contended for the indelibility of orders, which in his mind rendered his deposition in truth invalid and an impertinence; Archbishop Tikhon, on the other hand, defended his action on the ground that the Russian Church did not hold to the Western doctrine of the indelibility of orders, and that, as Dr. Irvine had been deposed by his Bishop, the fresh ordination cast no discredit upon Anglican orders.

Leaving the suspicious origin of the book and coming to its contents, the criticisms are of varying weight and force. It was of course easy, especially for those who had escaped the controversies of the Reformation period, to put the finger on hesitating utterances of the Prayer Book, which were intended o be cautious and not to exclude any who were willing to accept a conciliatory formula. Such a criticism as that the phrase, “this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,” is not to be understood in the traditional Eucharistic sense, because the phrase “a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,” is (perhaps unhappily) used without special reference to the Eucharist in a collect of thanksgiving among the Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea, seems captious, and hardly likely to have been made without suggestion by one very familiar with the contents of the Prayer Book. This is only one of several pretty evident instances of promptings to the committee from a Low Church view of the Prayer Book.

The objection that the priestly ministry is described as the ministry of the Word and Sacraments, “putting the word in the first rank in preference to all other functions,” would certainly not be made by any who had New Testament standards in mind. According to general belief, the ministry of the Word might with much advantage be given a more prominent place in practice than it occupies in the Russian Church.

To argue that the omission of exorcism from the baptismal rite implies the “dogmatic view that the children of Christian parents are, as such already in union with God, so that the baptism is only a manifestation of what grace had previously determined,” is in flat contradiction with the baptismal service itself. Such an implication can hardly escape the condemnation of perversity.

Meagre as may be our commendations of the departed, it is passing severe and rash to say that because there are not invocations of the saints, or explicit prayers for the departed, there is an “absence from the Anglican service of any confession of faith in a living and real bond existing between the earthly and heavenly parts of the church.” Were the first generations of Christians in like evil condition?

Dr. Frere has appended some helpful footnotes correcting mistakes (some of which he characterizes as “apparently deliberate”) in the Observations. Notwithstanding these notes we cannot think the publication to have been well advised, and we doubt if the Alcuin Club with fuller knowledge of the shady and fictitious origin of the book would have undertaken it.

Doubtless it is well that we should see ourselves as others see us, and in considering questions of Revision and Reunion it is important to remember that criticisms and objections have to be weighed that proceed not from one side only.

So far as Reunion is concerned, the book is of little value, since its Observations are not concerned with what might be required or allowed for intercommunion between the Anglican and the Orthodox Churches; but with what must be required in the supposititious case of an Episcopal congregation submitting to the Orthodox Church and asking to be allowed to retain the use of its old Prayer Book. The whole book is vitiated by the unreality of the conditions with which it professes to deal.

A.C.A. Hall, The Living Church, December 29, 1917, p. 298.


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萬國郵便聯合加盟五十年記念 (1927)



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The Tractarians (1908)

Church of our fathers! revived and restored,
We thy glad children rejoice that the sword
Of the world’s jealous hate and proud heresy’s sneer
Have served but to render thy glory more clear.

Through Keble and Newman and Pusey and Froude
The words of our Savior, recalled and reviewed,
Gave purpose and power to thy sacred rites,
And the gateway of heaven was seen from thy heights.

Upheld they thine order—thy ministry three,
That those who would serve thee may confident be
That the strength of apostle and grace of the saint
Are still with us now, to guard hearts that grow faint.

That awful memorial of Christ’s last great fight
On Calvary’s slope, with the powers of night,
They brought to the front in the system of grace
That man, e’en on earth, may know God “face to face.”

To sin-wearied souls on the path to the King
They showed that sweet freedom which Christ came to bring.
They spake words of pardon, in power divine,
That through Christ’s pure Manhood, His glory may shine.

And so did they preach and rouse hearts that were cold,
And taught of that Shepherd who dwells in His fold,
That, crowned with a fervor and zeal from on high,
They changed England’s Church and brought God very nigh.

Church of our fathers, revived and restored,
Mother of martyrs and Bride of our Lord,
Shall we not love them and cherish them dear—
Thy saints of “the thirties,” who suffered so here?

Then we who are blest in the work which they wrought
Should ever hold fast to that Faith which they taught,
Should ever most loyally follow their way
And fight well for Jesus, till night turns to day.

—L.C.L., The Living Church, July 25, 1908, p. 455.

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Ralph Adams Cram: Caldey Abbey and the Latin Liturgy (1911)

To the Editor of The Living Church:

THE fact that I have almost always found myself consistently at one with Presbyter Ignotus may perhaps in his sight palliate my dissension from his conviction in one particular case. In The Living Church for October 14th, he speaks with unwonted sharpness of the use of the Latin language in the monastic offices and the liturgy at Caldey Abbey, finding the effect “alien and artificial,” asking “cui bono,” and while justifying the use of the “Liber Precum Publicarum” in colleges on the ground (untenable, alas, today) that there Latin is a second mother tongue,” condemning it amongst the Caldey monks as a “sort of tour de force, a phonograph performance, disedifying and exotic.”

I am sorry for the expression of these impressions as I am at a loss to understand how they could have been obtained: the restoration of the Religious Life for men to our own portion of the Catholic Church is (or has been) sufficiently difficult of accomplishment, and even now it is important that no idea of affectation or wilful mediaevalism should be carelessly attributed to the several houses, or heedlessly acquired by those unfamiliar with their nature. This is particularly true of the Benedictines, since, being a lawful and bona fide revival in the Church of England of the Religious Life according to the Holy Rule of Sf. Benedict, unchanged and undiminished, the movement they represent is by its nature most open to superficial criticism or uninformed condemnation. I suppose I am as intimately familiar with Caldey Abbey as any man in the United States, and I think I have the right to say that there, if anywhere, any charge of affectation or unreality falls to the ground: not only is this Benedictine community the most absolutely untarnished centre of true Christian civilization with which I am familiar, it is also the moat convincing example of single purpose, honest effort and simple sincerity. It is impossible to spend a few days on this new “Holy Island” without submitting to the kind compulsion of this wonderful and potent thing that has come in these latter days to play its enormous part in the redemption of the Church. I know Presbyter Ignotus would agree with me in this, and because I know this I regret what he has written.

For myself, and all the others I have come to know in the Abbey guest house, the Latin offices are an essential part of the whole thing, not only an added beauty to a mode of worship that has no equal east or west, but a fundamental fact, a note of universality, a mark of historic continuity that could not be eliminated without loss that might well be fatal.

Every visitor to Caldey should remember that he enters the chapel, lives in the guest house, even sets foot on the island, only on sufferance and by the kindness of the Father Abbot; the life is not arranged for him, the offices are not for his edification; his very presence on the island is often, and in several ways, a handicap. The work of these monks is the Opus Dei of unceasing prayer and intercession; they are not a missionary Order, and the standard by which their methods are determined is not that of public appeal but of private effectiveness.

That the use of Latin in chapel conduces to this effectiveness is proved at least by the fact that it has continued from the first and under it the Order has grown stronger and more efficient year by year. Why should it not! Why should the use of Latin be a hard ship or a stumbling block? Presbyter Ignotus holds that, few of the brethren being university men, the offices must be uncomprehended by them, but this does not follow: the offices are not novel and unknown, they are unvarying in their make-up and they are repeated day after day and year after year. Many of the psalms, as those for compline, must be committed to memory, and it is possible that many of the monks know the whole Psalter by heart. As a matter of fact all the offices are far more familiar even to the newly professed novice than are the vernacular services of the Church to the average secular worshipper.

But it may be said, why Latin rather than English? Isn’t the latter good enough and more consonant with the spirit of the Anglican Church? There are two sides to this question: no one would think of suggesting the abandonment of the English language in parish church services, but of late we have come increasingly to realize that Latin is not a dead language, useful only as a mode of mental training, but that it has a cultural value for which there is no substitute. The change in the point of view of educators, in this respect alone, during the last five years, is almost startling, and I think the time will come when something of the same change will be perceived in the Church.

For after all there is a good deal of superstition mixed with the good sense that proscribes English as the sole language for public worship in our part of the Church. Half the old antipathies engendered by the Reformation are still operative though the cause is long since dead. One of these is naturally the use of Latin as a liturgical language. Every revolution gains at the cost of something lost. The gain of vernacular services was enormous, but something of value vanished with the old missals, breviaries, graduals, and psalters. The effort to make of religion a purely rational thing, intellectually expressible and intellectually comprehensible, has met with indifferent success, and the nemesis of denial is hot on the trail. We who have heard the noble and sonorous Latin of the choir offices at Caldey, chanted in the dusk to the solemn Gregorian mode after the method of Solesmes, know that therein is something of wonder and mystery and transcendence that are as consonant of religion as the keen mental appeal of services in our own tongue: we love the good English of Caldey parish church, but across the field, in the dim chapel, we find another and a different element that rounds out and perfects the familiar Prayer Book services. Words and language are more than the small change of thought, they have in the beginning, and acquire without ceasing, a certain spiritual significance and dynamic power of spiritual suggestion: they become evocative as well as expressive: moreover, an Idea of emotion voiced in one language can never be adequately translated into another, and many of the noblest thoughts and aspirations of man have been expressed in the Latin tongue: any transcription of them into another language can be only a pale simulacrum of the original. Take for example the Dies Irae, the Stabat Mater, or, best of all, the Hora Novissima: listen to the best possible English translation, said or sung, then hear good English monk voices chanting:

“Imminet, imminet, ut mala terminet, aequa coronet” and all that goes before and follows after in this astounding hymn: no man can deny that even to the most rudimentary Latinist (like myself) there is something of inestimable value in the original that is non-existent in the translation.

Again, the Gregorian mode, which is the only perfect type of religious music devised by (or revealed to) man, is the alter ego of Christian Latin, it may be distorted to misfit our English words and construction, but the results are seldom edifying: if we are to restore it in all its sublimity, it must be in conjunction with Latin words, otherwise we had best leave it largely alone.

Finally Latin was our own Church language for a thousand years, it is today the universal tongue of all the rest of the Church in the West, and it possesses a certain element of universality, of continuity, that is supremely useful at this particular juncture: it can never be the common tongue of our public worship, but it links us by another chain to the great past of which we are common heritors with the rest of the Western Church, and if we abandon it altogether we do so at the peril of irredeemable loss.

So for one (though there are many others) I am devoutly thankful that Dom Aelred in restoring the Benedictine Life to the English Church has been led to restore the Latin offices as well, and I hope to live to see the day when the admirable Latin translation of the Prayer Book will be as commonly used in our Divinity Schools as the original, and every college and university have its own “Latin Chapel” with daily services. I know of no better panacea than this for the ills of materialism, intensive intellectualism, and rationalized religion that now afflict the spiritual life of our time.

R. A. CRAM. Boston, October 19, 1911.

The Living Church, November 4, 1911, p. 18.

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